In 2011, the U.S. electronics recycling industry processed 3 to 4 million tons of used and end-of-life electronics equipment. More than 70 percent of the collected gadgets can be recycled, recovering items such as plastic, steel, aluminum, copper, gold and silver to be used in new products. Electronics recyclers repair, refurbish and resell functioning electronics as used products both at home and abroad.
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Sponsored by Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.
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Frequent Small Electronic Recycling Questions
What are ‘small electronics?’
Small electronics include items like digital cameras, smart phones, video game consoles, MP3 players, tablets, computer and TV accessories and GPS consoles.
Can I sell my old small electronics?
In some cases, yes. Some small electronics, such as cell phones, are frequently included in buy-back programs from retailers and service providers. If you are simply updating and your older device is still in good condition, you may be able to sell it to a second-hand retailer depending on the market.
If your device is in good condition, you may also want to check out an electronics trade-in program that offers store credit for your used electronics.
If you determine that you cannot sell your old small electronics, jump to the recycling locator to find your local recycling solution.
Do small electronics contain anything hazardous or harmful?
Recycling your electronics helps ensure many valuable materials like plastic, aluminum, copper and gold do not go to waste. But just as importantly, it is also providing the important benefit of keeping some of the less desirable materials found in TV’s, phones and computers such as mercury, lead and other heavy metals out of our natural environment.
These materials cause harm to the environment if they are mismanaged or disposed of in improperly lined landfills, which means it is important to find a responsible recycling solution when you’re ready to get rid of your small electronics.
If I donate small electronics, can I write them off?
Tax write-offs can be available but will depend on where you donate your electronics.
For example, federal law permits Goodwill donors to claim tax deductions for donated clothing and household items including electronics.
Check with the program accepting your donation and be sure to ask for a receipt.
How do I know if the recycler is properly disposing of my electronics?
When shopping for an electronics recycler, be sure to confirm that your recycler is certified.
Unfortunately, not every electronics recycler follows strict privacy standards or environmentally sound recycling practices. However, electronics recyclers and refurbishers can now become certified by demonstrating to an accredited, independent third party that they meet available standards on responsible recycling practices.
Does it cost money to recycle small electronics?
Not usually. Many manufacturers, retailers and recyclers offer programs for free electronics recycling via local drop-off or mail-in. It is also free to donate your small electronics if they are still in good condition.